According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, cancer and heart disease combined. This means a huge number of people suffer, mostly in silence, from a debilitating condition. They have to struggle to be diagnosed and receive proper treatment, especially when it comes to opioids.
Those who suffer from chronic pain can learn what triggers their pain and try to avoid these triggers. Despite this condition is much spread, it is also very unique, so what is a pain trigger in you, might not be a pain trigger in your friend.
Here are the most common chronic pain triggers and how to avoid them.
Stress is one of the main chronic pain triggers, because it affects the entire body. Paired with anxiety, stress can lead to muscle congestion, leaving your back or neck and shoulders in pain. The tightness promoted by stress and anxiety in your body can easily trigger a pain attack, so try to get some relief from a pain management specialist and avoid stressful situations.
Stress can make chronic pain worse. Stress causes your muscles to tense or spasm, which increases pain. When you feel stressed, levels of the hormone cortisol rise. This can cause inflammation and pain over time.
Anxiety alone can also trigger a chronic pain attack, as it is associated with migraines, chronic back pain, arthritis and fibromyalgia. In people who suffer from both chronic pain and anxiety, the pain can be worse, as they usually have a low tolerance to pain. Cognitive behavioral therapy can address both conditions at one, so it might be an effective pain reliever.
Poor sleeping: When you suffer from chronic pain you are prone to insomnia. And insomnia promotes chronic pain, so you will quickly find yourself in a never-ending loop. On top of these, you might develop anxiety due to pain and lack of sleep. To avoid this problem, when you have a painful day stay away right until you are ready to crash. Don’t take naps during the day, as this can promote insomnia. Invest in a good mattress and find a sleep position which relieves your pain as much as possible.
Getting enough sleep at night is important for your physical and emotional well-being. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Avoid caffeine late in the day so it doesn’t affect your sleep.
Temperature changes: Changes in temperature and air pressure can trigger a pain attack, especially in people who suffer from joint disease, like arthritis. Despite medical studies failed to find a strong link between temperature changes and pain, everyone with chronic pain knows the struggle is real. Sudden temperature changes lead to pain because your body has to adjust to the new conditions quickly and suffers from the change. Humidity and cold, as well as heat and humidity can lead to pain attacks.
Avoiding temperature changes is hard, so the only thing one can do is stay inside as much as possible and use hot packs or electric blankets in the winder and ice packs and air conditioning in the summer.
Physical activities: Physical activities can trigger chronic pain, but when it comes to which one, it’s a matter of individual. Some people’s pain is triggered by walking; others can’t sky or ride a bike. You need to pay attention to which activity triggers your pain episodes and avoid it in the future. And for some types of pain like shoulder pain there are a variety of treatments available.
You’ve probably recognized one or multiple triggers from this list and now you know how to avoid them. Make sure you always listen to your body and look for medical treatment when needed.